Race Preview: 2017 Cherry Blossom Run 5k (Salem)

As someone who works in downtown Salem and walks the Capitol Mall on almost a daily basis, I always lament how this location is a beautifully untapped area for racing. The High Street Hustle event finally broke through the barrier of closing Salem city streets for races – something that hadn’t been done in years. But if Portland can close streets with their traffic madness, closing down a few streets shouldn’t be that difficult in Salem.

The 2nd annual Cherry Blossom Run 5k doesn’t actually close down any city streets, but the 5k course does run around the Capitol Mall (including Willson Park and the new-ish WWII Memorial), as well as under the tree-lined paths via 2.5 loops. While looped courses aren’t always the greatest, this one is sure to provide a beautiful backdrop.  There will be a few road crossings, but each come with a button for immediate pedestrian crossing, so it should be relatively simple. Court Street (in front of the capitol) will be closed to traffic. Just smile and thank your motorized counterparts!

Japanese taiko drummers will be on site to urge runners on in tribute to the great historical ties between Oregon and Japan, as they were the country that gifted the Capitol Mall’s cherry blossom trees. Afterwards, stick around for the various Cherry Blossom Festival events (beginning at 10am), which include displays, vendors, and performances. Consider checking out the Cherry Blossom Theater Festival while you are here.

Also, there will be a Ninja, yes, that is correct….a Ninja running the course. It pays to run close to the Ninja, as  runners that finish within 30 places behind the ninja get a ticket in the raffle for premium Japanese sake and anyone who beats the ninja will receive an additional ticket!

The event is sponsored by the Oregon State Capitol Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the State Capitol, and fostering cultural and educational opportunities.

Cherry Blossom Run 5k (Salem)
When: 9a on March 18, 2017
Where: Oregon Capitol Mall
Register: Online here; $15, Discounts for families

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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